Cannabis is one of the most common drugs in the world. It is commonly known as weed. Many people today consume marijuana as it has become legal in most parts of the world.
However, cannabis has adverse side effects too. For starters, it could also be responsible for memory impairment. So what is cannabis, and what are its effects on the human brain? Read below to learn more about the use of high potency cannabis and its impact on the human brain.
What Are Cannabis, THC, and CBD?
Cannabis is a psychoactive drug that is extracted from the Cannabis Sativa plant. It contains active ingredients such as THC, CBD, and other components.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most abundant compound present in cannabis. It is the primary psychoactive substance present in the hemp plant, and it is responsible for the ‘high’ associated with smoking weed. Cannabis also contains a compound called CBD.
CBD is the second most abundant compound present in hemp plants. It is an active ingredient of medical marijuana, and it is non-toxic, unlike THC.
How Do You Smoke Cannabis?
Cannabis is available in different forms, and there are many ways of smoking marijuana. Each method affects users differently. Like, you can roll up marijuana and smoke it like a cigarette.
People also add weed to food and make edibles such as pot brownies, cookies, or cakes. With marijuana gaining popularity, people have now started vaping it. They also use handheld pipes.
Inhaling or smoking marijuana is the quickest way of getting high. While on the other hand, edibles take longer to produce significant effects on the brain. The drug has to travel through the digestive system before it gets dissolved in the bloodstream.
However, the effects of edibles last longer than when you smoke weed. Edibles affect you for about eight hours.
Effects of Weed on the Brain
For a long time, people associated the loss of memory with the use of cannabis. However, there wasn’t sufficient research to confirm the effects of weed on the brain. However, with more research, we have current evidence that shows that cannabis may temporarily alter short-term memory.
So How Does THC Affect the Brain?
When you smoke marijuana, THC enters the bloodstream and reaches your brain. It attaches itself to the cannabinoid receptors and affects the endocannabinoid system of neurotransmitters.
This system is responsible for regulating a range of functional and psychological responses such as sleep, appetite, mood, and memory. When the endocannabinoid system isn’t controlled, your body comes under the influence of THC.
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What Is the Link Between Cannabis and Memory Loss?
You can divide memory into short-term and long-term memory. Short-term memory is limited in terms of capacity, and it stores immediate events temporarily. At the same time, long-term memory stores complete information.
According to research, young people who use cannabis frequently have thinner cortices—the temporal and frontal cortices process memory functioning. However, in older people, the use of cannabis affects cognitive functioning.
Cannabis contains THC and CBD. These compounds disrupt neural signaling as they interact with the cannabinoid receptors in the brain. THC attaches itself to the receptors that play an essential role in preserving memory.
Once THC and CBD alter the receptors, it causes problems with working memory and thinking. A novel study of high potency cannabis showed that people who consumed vast amounts of cannabis had memory impairment.
In this study, researchers divided eighty participants into four groups. The groups used different concentrations of THC. For example, one group smoked cannabis with twenty percent THC while the other smoked THC with CBD. Another group consumed cannabis with sixty percent THC with CBD, while the fourth group remained sober.
The results of this investigation showed that high potency cannabis did not impact decision-making performances. However, it did affect memory-related free recall. The sober and cannabis-using groups showed no differences for prospective memory, i.e., the ability to remember to do things later, like attending a lecture.
CBD and Memory Loss
While CBD is not a psychoactive drug, it still binds to the receptors of the endocannabinoid system. When researchers studied CBD and memory loss in the same study, they found that users who smoked cannabis with CBD could not recall words and pictures that they saw before.
This study proved that CBD did affect memory. However, it was less significant than the memory loss associated with THC consumption.
What Are the Side Effects of Consuming High Potency Cannabis?
Cannabis smoke has a variety of toxic chemicals such as hydrogen cyanide and ammonia. For regular users, these chemicals can harm the bronchial passages and lungs.
An irritated bronchial passage will cause coughing and wheezing. When you smoke cannabis, you’re also at risk for developing respiratory diseases such as asthma.
Prolonged use of cannabis can cause the following problems:
- Lost appetite
- Sleep disruptions
- Dry mouth
- Paranoid thinking
The adverse effects of high potency THC include alteration of reflex responses and balance. It is because THC affects the way you process information. It makes your judgment impaired.
Besides that, the hippocampus is responsible for memory. When THC affects your brain, it is difficult to form new memories or remember them.
People who consume large doses of cannabis are also more likely to have depression and anxiety, says an addiction psychiatrist. In addition, users who consume higher quantities of THC may also require treatment for suicidal tendencies and psychosis.
The Final Words
So, it is easy to conclude that cannabis and memory loss are associated together for a reason. But, besides that, many other harms also come from smoking high-potency marijuana.
However, the medicinal uses of marijuana are combating the stigma around the consumption of weed. So, now that there is ongoing research on cannabis, we can hope to learn more about the safe use of marijuana.